Washington University wants to build new retail space and 200 student apartment units along Delmar in the Loop. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
March 14, 2012Washington University officials on Feb. 27 presented details of an $80 million development project proposed for the Delmar Loop and Parkview Gardens neighborhood of University City.
The plan includes building about 20,000 square feet of retail space along Delmar, and 200 student apartment units on Enright and Delmar. The university already owns a number of properties in the area.
Cheryl Adelstein, a spokesman for the university, said the new housing would be for juniors and seniors and would be run by the university's department of residential life. Adult resident advisors would live in the buildings.
She said the university guarantees students four years of housing while at school. There is more demand than supply for upperclass housing, said Adelstein, and newer, more diverse housing is something the university is looking for.
According to Adelstein, discussions with students and faculty who already live in the Parkview Gardens neighborhood, which sits just to the north of the Loop, show that they like the area. She cited a short walk to campus and access to MetroLink as important factors. She also said the new development complements plans that the university has for the Parkview Gardens area.
The university has owned properties in the area for over 10 years, and according to Adelstein is looking to invest about $20 million in renovations over the next six years to approximately 25 buildings in the area.
"We are committed to the housing stock in this area and would like to add some properties eventually," she said.
University representatives said money would be raised privately and that the city would not be asked for any tax incentives.
Arthur Ackermann, the university's associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and management, said Washington University plans to pursue LEED certification for the project, but has not determined at what level yet. He also said plans call for multiple bike racks. The university currently provides free Metro passes for students.
"The university is going to design, build and operate these buildings; we are not going to hire out to a third party," Ackermann said. "To be truly sustainable, we have to respect and integrate into the neighborhood fiber, and we think we can do that."
He said there are several buildings in the area dating to the 1970s that the university would tear down and replace with buildings better suited for the area.
University City Council Member Lynn Ricci asked if any historic buildings would be affected by the project. Adelstein said the retail portion of the project would require tearing down several buildings from the 1920s and 1930s, and that if they are unable to tear down those buildings, the project would have to be reworked.
"I was impressed by the presentation and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition, but I hope minority participation is something that you will look at, and I also have some of the same concerns as Council Member Ricci," said Council Member Arthur Sharpe Jr.
Council Member Terry Crow also commended the project, describing it as a "vote of confidence in our community," but said that addressing possible noise levels should be kept in mind. He said that in the past some neighborhoods or streets have experienced problems with noise from university events. Meetings between university staff and residents to address the problem had been well received by residents, he said.